Review: For Theatricum Botanicum, All’s Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well -Theatricum

Earnestine Phillips and Willow Geer. Photos by Miriam Geer

In Theatricum Botanicum’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the action begins and ends with a song. At rise it is the somber lamentation that accompanies a funeral procession and at the play’s conclusion, an uplifting madrigal “Sing We Enchant It.” This bookending of the play with two very different types of music – sacred vs. secular – is one of the ways that co-directors Ellen Geer and Christopher W. Jones subtly underscore the distinctions presented in Shakespeare’s lesser-known comedy.

Another is the way they cast the high-born and low-born characters. Though race is not specified in the text, the decision to use actors of color for the former and Caucasian actors for the latter works on the modern sensibilities of the audience. It broadens our perceptions while making a very important point: good breeding is not always synonymous with good character. If it were, Bertram (Max Lawrence), with all the wealth and privilege afforded by his station, would not behave like such a cad.  More

Theatricum Botanicum Announces Cast For All’s Well That Ends Well

TB ShakespeareWill Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum continues its celebration of the Bard’s 450th birthday with a new production of All’s Well That Ends Well that joins the All-Shakespeare Repertory Season on June 21.

Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy is all about class differences, and Theatricum’s production brings it into the 21st century without changing a word.

The story of low-born Helena who heals the king and wins the right to marry the man she loves starts out on a high note. But when the man of her choice turns out to be a count above her station, he brutally and ruthlessly rejects her.

Co-directors Ellen Geer and Christopher W. Jones use a simple casting choice to challenge our modern perceptions of wealth, status and class: the aristocrats are all portrayed by actors of color, with Caucasian actors playing the commoners.

“This is a remarkable play that scholars and editors love to fuss about,” says Geer. “Helena is a great female role model who crosses class lines to follow her heart. I hope that our production will add another layer to the fascinating class and gender struggles here, heightening the humanity within the play and forcing us all to re-examine our values – all while we laugh and cry with the characters onstage.”  More

Theatricum Botanicum Presents an Intriguing All-Shakespeare Season

TB ShakespeareWill Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum will celebrate the Bard’s 450th birthday with an All-Shakespeare Season this summer in Topanga Canyon. The 2014 five-play repertory season is a lively mix of tragedy and comedy, with a heaping teaspoon of Theatricum’s trademark social commentary that includes twists on King Lear and All’s Well That Ends Well; Shakespeare’s much-beloved Much Ado About Nothing; the company’s annual, signature production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and Equivocation, the award-winning play by Bill Cain that goes behind the scenes at the legendary Globe Theatre as King James commissions a young William “Shagspeare” to write a play about a thwarted attempt on his life.

In addition, Theatricum has been selected to participate in “Shakespeare on the Road,” a 60-day road trip by a team representing the University of Warwick and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust that will visit and document Shakespeare-related theater festivals across America during the 450th birthday of Shakespeare in 2014 and the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

“William Shakespeare, more than any other writer, chronicles every one of our emotions: love, jealousy, rage, romance, despair, joy, tenderness and humor,” says Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer. “We understand our world – and ourselves – better because of him.”

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Shakespeare by the Sea Holds Garden Tea Fundraiser

Shakespeare by the Sea 2013
Shakespeare by the Sea (SBTS) will host its fourth annual garden tea party at MaGriffe Galerie in San Pedro on Saturday, April 27 at 2:00 pm. Celebrate the Bard with tea and sonnets in the beautiful garden at MaGriffe overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy performances of some of Shakespeare’s most moving sonnets read by your favorite Shakespeare by the Sea actors while you sip tea or champagne and savor scones, sandwiches and decadent desserts. The event is a fundraiser for the organization that provides admission-free, professional Shakespeare in communities from Ventura to Orange County each summer. 40 performances are planned for the upcoming season.

For its 16th season, SBTS will showcase two plays it has never before produced, King John, a quasi-historical tale of Medieval contest and conquest – and All’s Well that Ends Well, a cautionary story of a young woman whose love knows no bounds. Both plays shine a spotlight on ambition and its consequences, throwing in a characteristic measure of Shakespearean humor. They will be performed in repertory in San Pedro and 19 other locations throughout LA, Orange and Ventura Counties. For the complete summer schedule and more information please visit www.shakespearebythesea.org.

MaGriffe Gallerie is located at3624 S Gaffey St, San Pedro. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door). Click Here for tickets and more information or call (310) 217-7596.

Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen Comes to Cinemas in California

Experience three incredible productions from the world’s most famous stage at a cinema near you.

Beginning Oct 11 – All’s Well That Ends Well
Helena loves Bertram, and when she cures the King of France of his sickness, she claims Bertram as her reward. Romantic and comic with a fantastic cast of frauds, cynics, sentimentalists and buffoons. Click Here for a list of screenings in Southern California.

Beginning Oct 23 – Much Ado About Nothing
Eve Best and Charles Edwards star as the bantering Beatrice and Benedick, Shakespeare’s wittiest pair of lovers in a romantic comedy with a twist of suspense. Click Here for a list of screenings in Southern California.

Beginning Oct 24 – Dr. Faustus
Marlowe’s poetic and anarchic tale of Doctor Faustus, who makes a deal with the Devil: if the evil spirit Mephistopheles will serve him for 24 years, Faustus will yield his soul to the Devil after death. Click Here for a list of screenings in Southern California.

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